MARCH 2-5, 2021

(Virtually the same conference, without elevators, airplane tickets, or hotel room keys)


The 2021 Antonia Brancia Maxon Award for EHDI Excellence will be presented at the 2021 National EHDI Conference in Cincinnati, OH. This award honors the life and work of Dr. Antonia Brancia Maxon to promote effective Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) programs for all newborns, infants, and young children. Dr. Maxon was a pioneer in EHDI programs, beginning with her leadership in the Rhode Island Hearing Assessment Project in the late 1980's. She was one of the first to recognize the feasibility and value of universal newborn hearing screening and was a tireless advocate for connecting screening programs with timely and appropriate diagnosis and early intervention.

Her extensive contributions to creating excellent EHDI programs were abruptly ended by a tragic automobile accident in May of 2007. In memory of her contributions, an Award for EHDI Excellence is presented each year at the National EHDI Conference to honor an individual who has made outstanding contributions to achieving excellence in EHDI programs nationally or in a particular state or region.

Presentation of the 2021 Antonia Brancia Maxon Award for EHDI Excellence will be made on Monday March 1, 2021 at the National EHDI Conference in Cincinnati, OH. More about the National EHDI Conference, including past nominees and recipients can be found below.

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Maria Cantu

Maria Cantu is an innovator, critical thinker, EHDI expert, and founding member and VP of Operations of OZ Systems International. Over 26 years ago she began as a hearing screener with the Sounds of Texas pilot.

"Maria's decades of tireless child health efforts began as a screener. After seeing the success of EHDI programs' electronic data integration, she pushed for similar technologies in other arenas. She led the way to automated electronic lab orders and electronic lab results for NDBS, and clinical decision support in CCHD, allowing for faster intervention. Maria delivers innovative solutions to improve outcomes and data quality for public health programs. She truly keeps babies' and clinicians' best interests at heart." - Brenee Mitchell, Regenstrief Institute

Today, she develops technology that ensures millions of babies, internationally, receive their newborn screenings and timely intervention.

"In my mind Maria Cantu is Wonder Woman and my gold standard for testing the hearing of babies. She once had two babies - was testing one with ABR and the other with OAE. Baby #3 began a loud howl of irritation. Maria went to the howling baby, performed a perfect snuggle wrap, picked Baby #3 up and patted until quiet, put the happy baby back, unhooked the baby getting ABR after checking the results, unhooked the baby getting OAE testing, and hooked up baby #3 for testing....all the while smiling and explaining what she was doing. From testing, Maria went on to many other responsibilities with OZ Systems, and I saw her excel at everything she did. She loves what she does, is beyond competent, and is the epitome of a high professional standard in all that she does." Joy O'Neal, Former Director of the Texas EHDI Program.

"The Newborn Hearing Screening programme in England has much to thank Maria for. Her expert support was crucial as we developed and rolled out the programme and she was always there for us." Gwen Carr, Former NHS England Newborn Hearing Screening Programme DD.

Nick Johnstone-Waddell, Public Health England, "I worked with Maria on the rollout of newborn hearing screening across England. I remember her enthusiasm, dedication to newborn screening and commitment to end users. I remember when a user spotted something that could be improved, she wanted to get straight on the phone to a developer and get it fixed for the next day. Maria's first instinct was always to help the users as much as she could, which I was really inspired by. Our mantra in the UK government is to always understand and meet the 'user needs' and Maria seemed to have grasped this before it became widely understood."

Maria understood the needs of multi-lingual and first generation families. With new Hispanic moms, she understood their fears and concerns – beyond screening and follow-up care. With nursing staff, she engaged them as equals. Maria is co-inventor of EHDI software, of pre-analytic tools for bloodspot screening and for assuring accurate critical congenital heart screening. The time has come to recognize her excellence in EHDI.